The much-publicized parking and other logistical problems
at last month’s Rolling Stones concert at Circuit of the Americas has
pushed local officials to call for the creation of a task force focused
on accessibility issues at area concert venues.
Bruce Elfant,Travis County tax assessor-collector and voter
registrar, spoke at Monday’s Music Commission meeting about the
difficulties he had trying to attend the concert on crutches due to a
Elfant called COTA in advance to check on accommodations for the
disabled, but a golf cart transport only took him to the main gate, with
staff offering to use a gurney to transport him to his seat because no
wheelchairs were available and a tent to address accessibility issues
After the show, he was told he would need to wait at least 90 minutes
for assistance. Instead he opted to hobble on crutches to an area
outside the main gate where a crowd of other disabled concertgoers were
waiting for help to get back to their cars.
“We were among the last to leave. They were rude to disabled people
and we watched them drop an elderly woman who was disabled on the
ground,” he said. “COTA is a world-class venue and I know they can do
better. We want them to do better. We want our venues to be welcoming
and we want it to be a great experience for all of our citizens.”
Elfant said he has raised the issue of creating a task force with
COTA leaders and discussed the issue with City Council Member Vanessa
Fuentes. He heard from “back channel” contacts that there should be
progress on the matter within the next week.
Members of the Music Commission and Elfant, who previously served as a
county constable to help enforce disabled parking laws, discussed using
the attention around the problems with the Rolling Stones concert as an
opening to look at the broader issue of accessibility at music venues.
Their talk included the possibility of appointing members of the Music
Commission and the Mayor’s Committee for People With Disabilities to the
new task force.
“This might be an opportunity to have this conversation here in
Travis County with other venues and venue owners and patrons and people
in the disability community to look at what we can do better and how can
we help these venues,” Elfant said. “The vast majority of businesses
want to do the right thing and they just don’t understand what is
required under the (Americans with Disabilities Act) for the things that
they don’t even think about but people with disabilities do.”
City staffers also suggested including the Austin Center for Events
in the discussions and work of the task force, and identified the
Creative Space Assistance Program as one source of funding for venues to
make improvements related to accessibility.
“I would like the intention of whatever we do as a Music Commission
to be to help understand what went wrong and try to prevent things like
this from happening in the future, and to establish best practices that
we can help build with COTA and then apply to all venues in town,”
Commissioner Oren Rosenthal said.